circumvent

verb
cir·​cum·​vent | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \
circumvented; circumventing; circumvents

Definition of circumvent

transitive verb

1 : to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem the setup circumvented the red tape— Lynne McTaggart circumvent a problem
2a : to hem in Circumvented by the enemy, he had to surrender.
b : to make a circuit around the river circumvented

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from circumvent

circumvention \ ˌsər-​kəm-​ˈven(t)-​shən How to pronounce circumvention (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for circumvent

Synonyms

beat, bypass, dodge, get around, shortcut, sidestep, skirt

Antonyms

comply (with), follow, keep, obey, observe

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

The Circular History of Circumvent

If you’ve ever felt as if someone were circling around the rules, you have an idea of the origins of "circumvent" - it derives from the Latin circum, meaning "circle," and "ventus," the past participle of the Latin verb venire, meaning "to come." The earliest uses of "circumvent" referred to a tactic of hunting or warfare in which the quarry or enemy was encircled and captured. Today, however, "circumvent" more often suggests avoidance than entrapment; it typically means to "get around" someone or something, as in our example sentences.

Examples of circumvent in a Sentence

Los Angeles was the beachhead for the sushi invasion, attracting many Japanese chefs eager to make their fortunes and to circumvent the grueling 10-year apprenticeship required in their homeland. — Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review, 10 June 2007 … Rondon and Lyra paddled to the right side, where they found a channel that circumvented the worst part of the rapids. — Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005 His appreciation of this finer side of life is circumvented by a cynicism that he tells me is common to Eastern Europeans. — Lynne Tillman, Motion Sickness, 1991 The thirty-six-hour workweek established by the garment-industry code was circumvented by having the workers punch out at five P.M., leave by the back door (their usual entrance), then return by the front door and work until eleven P.M. without punching the clock. — Melissa Hield, Speaking For Ourselves, (1977) 1984 We circumvented the problem by using a different program. He found a way to circumvent the law.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Companies in the wealthy city state in Southeast Asia, where North Korea has an embassy, have been previously implicated in its efforts to circumvent sanctions on banking, imports of oil and petroleum products and other business dealings. Matthew Pennington, The Seattle Times, "US sanctions Singapore companies over North Korea dealings," 25 Oct. 2018 The German government is under fire for betraying its pledge to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, in light of Berlin’s efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran. Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News, "Germany accused of betraying pledge to combat anti-Semitism by ignoring Iran sanctions," 22 Aug. 2018 Some critics have said the laws will be easy to circumvent, using transactions involving companies. Rob Taylor, WSJ, "Locked Out: New Zealand Bans Foreigners From Buying Existing Homes," 15 Aug. 2018 Like the rest, it's proven to be pretty easy to circumvent. Gregory Krieg, CNN, "Legal? Yes. Ethical? Meh. Our flimsy campaign finance and lobbying laws," 14 May 2018 Most sites ask new registrants to honestly self-report their date of birth, which makes their age limits rather easy to circumvent. Fortune, "How Smartphones and Social Media Can Steal Childhood," 8 May 2018 Whether the administration’s calculation pays off will depend on how vigorously the sanctions are enforced and whether Iran is able to circumvent them. Asa Fitch, WSJ, "5 Things to Know About New U.S. Sanctions on Iran," 2 Nov. 2018 By focusing on innovation, DIY creativity, and social networking in their makerspace, Conservation X Labs aims to circumvent the need for massive monetary investment. Virginia Gewin, The Atlantic, "A Handheld DNA Scanner Could Crack Down on Wildlife Identity Theft," 9 Feb. 2018 They’re being used as a commodity to circumvent a loophole. Emilie Ikeda, Fox News, "Migrant children being used as ‘commodity to circumvent a loophole,’ border agent says," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumvent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of circumvent

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for circumvent

Latin circumventus, past participle of circumvenire, from circum- + venire to come — more at come

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about circumvent

Share circumvent

Listen to Our Podcast about circumvent

Statistics for circumvent

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for circumvent

The first known use of circumvent was in 1539

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for circumvent

circumvent

verb

English Language Learners Definition of circumvent

formal : to avoid being stopped by (something, such as a law or rule) : to get around (something) in a clever and sometimes dishonest way

circumvent

verb
cir·​cum·​vent | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \
circumvented; circumventing

Kids Definition of circumvent

: to avoid the force or effect of by cleverness They tried to circumvent the rules.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on circumvent

What made you want to look up circumvent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the range of authority or knowledge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!